Trevor Timeless

The Padres Will Retire Hoffman's #51

I don't want to argue about whether or not Trevor Hoffman is the best closer in baseball history (it's him or Mariano Rivera).

I don't want to argue about whether or not Trevor Hoffman will earn enough votes to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame (knowing Sports writers, it could go either way).

I don't want to argue about whether Trevor Hoffman or Tony Gwynn is the true "Mr. Padre" (it's six in one, half-a-dozen in the other).

I just want to take a moment to congratulate one of the best players the game has ever seen. The Padres are retiring Trevor Hoffman's iconic #51. It'll happen on Sunday, August 21 after the Padres play the Marlins at PETCO Park. That's fitting, since Hoffman made his major league debut with Florida in 1993. Anyone with a ticket to the game is welcome to stick around and witness history.

The honor really a formality. Hoffy spent 16 years in San Diego, racking up 552 of his MLB record 601 saves. He was an imposing figure on the mound, and in the community. Hoffman was a 6-time recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, and won the 2008 Branch Rickey Award for his humanitarian efforts.

In his prime, Hoffman was the most feared closer on earth. If you were sitting in the visitor's dugout and heard Hells Bells crank up on the loudspeaker, you could pack up your bags and try again tomorrow. Trevor converted 89.3% of his save opportunities as a Padre (better than Rivera, by the way).

What amazes me most about Hoffman is how he was able to completely reinvent himself as a pitcher. His fastball used to reach the mid-90's, making his drop-off-the-end-of-the-world change even more devastating. But then he had rotator cuff surgery, and lost about ten miles per hour off the heater. That would be the end of a career for most closers.

Not Trevor Hoffman.

He came back good as ever, once again leading the league in saves, making All-Star teams and receiving Cy Young votes. This time he did it with location and pure guts. When fireballers like Mark Wohlers and Mitch Williams lost their gas they were done. They were throwers, not pitchers. Hoffman proved he was a pitcher, a mound savant who understood how to work hitters by simply outworking hitters.

Not bad for a guy originally drafted by the Reds as a shortstop.

Hoffy will be the 5th Padre to have his number retired, joining Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, Randy Jones and Steve Garvey (as well as Jackie Robinson, of course). Once again, congratulations to one of the game's all-time greats.

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